Saturday, March 2, 2024

Lotus Flower Suckers

In mythology, they tell of the Lotus plant that " induces a dreamy forgetfulness and an unwillingness to depart." (Encyclopedia.com))and Odyssey depicts it as such..

"Those who did so were overcome by a blissful forgetfulness; they had to be dragged back to the ship and chained to the rowing-benches, or they would never have returned to their duties." - Britanica

I think this is a very relevant story to our time.  Recently, I listened to an audiobook called Dopamine Nation and have mentioned it in the past, how society is being geared to follow what feels good and how that inherently destroys us... as we seek satisfaction from things that become less and less satisfying, so we get more extreme and less reasoned.  It also has the effect of making us weaker in my opinion, because like eating of the Lotus we forget our purpose or goals in life and end up trying to blissfully forget the past, instead.

Change is hard, because it takes effort and drive, in spite of being unpleasant.  If we eat food that tastes sweet like sugar all the time, our bodies decay, but eating more vegetables and protein can build us up.  If we sit around and do nothing, our bodies decay and get pains, while an active life improves both.  You can work hard and have more money and less stress, or you can lay in bed and eventually have the power shut off for non payment.  Following what feels good is not always your best path.

I'm not saying that pleasure is bad, and I would suggest that sometimes it IS good to drink some wine or relax or do things that make you feel good.  But, that has to be in moderation and CANNOT become a substitute for growth and adaption for a life that is always changing.

I am getting older, but I am not dead, yet.  If I begin seeking the easy path and giving up on taking new goals or seeking a better way, I am already beginning my descent into the grave, and I would rather not do that till I am actually dead.  May we all LIVE until we enjoy our days in the present, always expecting a better day, tomorrow.... until there are no more tomorrows.  THAT is what it means to be alive.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Normally Abnormal

I thought I'd write down one of many things that I've had bouncing around in my head, as I decide what career I will follow upon my move to the Midwest. I picked up a delivery at a pizza place this afternoon, and the worker that made the pizza was so proud of his creation and his job. It got me to thinking, so I did a little research.

There is, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.19 million people working in food preparation and serving in the US. By comparison, there are only 1.6 million accountants and auditors, only about 4.5 million elementary and secondary teachers, and so on. Got every "professional" job there's more working in support roles or ones that you actually SEE on a day to day life. Out of 161 million workers, only 70 million are in management or supervision positions, across all the industries including another million in the food service businesses.

My point is this. While we judge our career and success by our professional levels, there are more working in blue collar jobs than higher positions, which translated means it is normal to be working.. just a job.. to make ends meet, even if society deems that less than or inadequate.

Ten years from now, no one will even remember you in those professional jobs. I know... been there, done that. I used to handle 10 million dollars in reporting monthly for a business and once saved them 2 million dollars. Now... none even know I exist. So, who is better.. the man in the high tension "professional" job or the man that is very happy he cooked a perfect pizza?

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Change

A Greek philosopher is credited with saying the only constant is change, but it has been repeated by many in different contexts over the centuries. Indeed... I have always thought that my life is always very different than I expected it to be 5 years prior. Five years ago, I was married and expected it to last, forever. That would change within months that year, and my life has had many other change points between then and now. It hasn't been all bad... just different. However, it was often unexpected.

This will be a short blog, but it's worthy of its own post. Life is unexpected.. it is chaos, and that's a good thing in part. How would you ever touch the magic of a moment, if every moment was dictated? The last several years has been hard and challenging at times, and ultimately it's taught me I want more of family and roots, at least for now. But, I grew SO much on my own in the challenges, here... in the... change.

We change our clothes, our hair, our direction to get to work... and much more, because "anything is better than a life standing still," as Ethan says in Beautiful Creatures. Sharks suffocate if they stay still. I once did a graph where there was a line going out in two extremes... one is life and the other is death. Life is activity, growth, regeneration, change. Even our weather gives cycles of change and reset. And, that's OK. Reset or regeneration is starting over but with new hope for what lies ahead. Death, on the other hand, is stillness, fixed states, and less movement with decay.

So, the next time you stress over change, just think... you could be staying the same... the horror...

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Just the Facts Ma'am

You shouldn't let others define you, when you have plenty of history to define yourself. I thought about doing a "relationship resume" or "parenting resume" today, because I've spent too long letting ex's and others not only believe false assumptions but propagate them, and when that's all that's being said, the truth gets lost.

And, we give up too quickly and silently, sometimes. I was picking up a delivery the other day, and the worker told me... uber orders will be at least 30 minutes wait. Normally, I'd just go to my car and call uber to cancel my delivery to be reassigned. But, I knew the girl was just being lazy and it was a high dollar order. So...I pulled out my phone and called uber and told them out loud what the restaurant said, and... what do you know. Somehow, the girl got the order done in 10 minutes.

People want you to just give up your image or desires, so they can get theirs. And, those that want to take advantage of you do not want that getting told to others. Or, if they want you to look bad, they will get upset when you tell facts that make you look good. So, there's several that wouldn't want me to recount the following...

When I was in my first marriage, I joined the military when my first ex who had been working management got tired of it and "didn't know what to do" about her career. Then, when that ex finished an MBA and left me still in the military for another year to start working at a job, I left the military to follow. When our child was having problems with ADHD and her school told me they didn't know what to do and was isolating her, I gave up my own career to homeschool the child for 7 years and take care of the house, because that ex didn't want to leave her work. A few years later, we would have a 2nd child and that ex had a postpartum condition, so... I schooled online and used that aid from school to pay the bills as I was in all ways the only parent raising the infant for years. Then, I got my first accounting job to cover expenses for the family... a job that ex didn't support, and we divorced. Years later, when she had another breakdown, I would take custody of the child for 5 years.

In that time, I would have both kids living with me, because the oldest failed out of college and lost her aid. I took her into my house to pay for her tuition and drive her to college and help her get her aid back with good grades. I was also driving the youngest to her school near my work and picking her up at her after school daycare after my job was done. I would take them to the Renaissance fair, comic cons, Christmas lights, and much more and had a conversation on way home about their lives. After a few years, I began to date, and I met my 2nd ex.

For that relationship, I would pay for multiple dates each week, pay for one weekend per month with her at hotels, sell my house to pay for the wedding and a deposit for a nice apartment we'd share, when that ex wanted to move out of her mother's house. I often bought roses or chocolate for her, and when her back got to hurting, I would leave my high paying job to handle things at the house for her, as well... working at flexible money options, instead, even though they did not pay as well. However, that ex didn't like me helping her, and she ended the marriage.

Those involved don't want me saying all that I did, because it looks bad that they turned and burned or attacked me. They want to project a different story that they can control. But, history is history, and I'll just let the facts be known and stand for themselves, instead.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Free to Fail

Today is one of my least prosperous delivery days.. Tuesdays. So, I usually take the day off completely or split a half day with Thursday, which can also be slow. I didn't do that much.. laundry and cooked 15 bean soup for the first time in my life. And, I took time to work through a new music playlist. Doing that always helps me process life, and music has been a decency therapist over the years for someone always too strapped to afford REAL therapy. It's definitely not always easy, and I put like 15 other songs on the playlist that didn't make the cut as I processed and narrowed down songs that either resonated with how I feel or went in the direction I wanted to go. But, those songs that didn't make the cut helped me, too. If I didn't try them, I wouldn't know I didn't like how they felt. And, that leads well into thos post topic.

Life is messy. We always feel like others have their lives all figured out, and our lives are an embarrassment on humanity. However, over my life I've seen that most people have messy lives in one way or another. In fact, I've often seen that those that project such a perfect life are trying to force that perfect image to cover a real life spinning out of control. My ex projected and projects a perfect church Christian image, while her family life is a disaster and recently kidnapped her child against the child's will ... pulling the child out of public school and then refusing to honor the custody agreement to let the child see their father. I allow it as she child is becoming an adult and won't matter for long .. and we still talk by text. But..my ex thinks in HER mind that she is perfect and holy in part because her mental condition (manic disorder) causes her to never admit she can BE wrong. I say all that to say this.... her life is a disaster and she lacks a good connection to her child, BECAUSE she can't just say... my bad. That was a mistake. Can you forgive me and start over in a new direction. My second ex, likewise, failed to admit wrong or to try again and refused counseling offers. And, I'm missing a friend that got close last year, because she cannot admit wrong and try again. She tries something once and... that's it. It reminds me of how my 2nd ex can't watch a movie more than once.

But, there's a benefit that can actually strengthen goals we have in admitting wrong. The meme out there says when we start over that it's not from scratch but with wisdom to be more successful the next time. Problem is that people tend to give up by the time they learned the lessons. Now... not all paths lead to success and learning in those cases is to recognize that and try a different path. But, the common thread is that you learned from mistakes, and to learn from mistakes you have to allow yourself to make them. When we live in am isolated and insulated reality that is not allowed to fail, we learn nothing and that reality will be repeated over and over in all of our lives til we admit the error to progress.

Thomas Edison famously make thousands of successful failures in making the light bulb.. successful, because he learned what didn't work. If he wasn't willing to make mistakes and learn from them, we'd all be living in the dark. So, cut yourself a break and celebrate your failures as well as successes. Then, you might actually find a path that WORKS for your life.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Forward To Happiness Ebook





Above is the image of my book at Amazon.com, where you will also find the description and table of contents, below. It is a quick read but priced accordingly. My hope is that my learning on my path is helpful to you on yours.

My life is definitely not where I thought it would be as a child or young adult. It’s not even where I thought it would go when I began my blog forwardtohappiness.com for which this book is named… a blog whose contents were deleted and replaced several times over the years as I learned and grew. But, many lessons cannot be taught by words and must be lived to be understood. Very little in my Bible degree or MBA and accounting career would prepare me for a life stage of struggle that taught me more about me and life than many will ever know in sheltered lives and easier experiences. It bothers me when those kind of people give bumper sticker advice, so that’s one reason I wrote this book. May you never have to live the life I have faced, but hopefully some of my words can help inspire you in the challenges you find yourself.

This book is a compilation of 10 blog posts (which will be cropped after writing this to promote sales of this book that may not be long but is priced cheaper than the coffee you drink reading it), as well as inspirational quotes that I have always found valuable, as well. It is my gift of effort for you, and I hope it serves you well.

Table of Contents

- Introduction

- Unfortunate Lives (poverty isn’t evidence of sin or value)

- Hope (it’s own reward in darkest days)

- Life Happens (finding peace as you climb Maslow’s pyramid, not after)

- Strike While the Iron is Hot (be changeable in times of change)

- Finding Forward (consider your options)

- Assess the Stupidity (recognize when options fail)

- Resonance (seek those who share your interests or values)

- Where You End Up (look ahead to where path options take you)

- Let People Fail (don’t eat the blame for others or they cannot learn)

- Honey and Vinegar (value friends over being right)

- Inspirational Quotes (collected over time that help me)

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Personal Updates

It's been a little while since I have done a personal update post on the blog, mainly because a lot of things were in flux and could change. However, I am feeling pretty steady about the choices and direction that lies ahead over the last few weeks. I've mentioned some on various social media posts, but I wanted to bring together realizations and reflections along with some readings and more.

In short, I've decided to move back to the Midwest this Summer or Fall.. likely Fall. But, there's a lot that goes into that short statement, as weeks of thought went into the conclusion and more into the application.

Obviously, the first influence on the decision was that my ex kidnapped my child against my will or my child's will. The only reason I didn't have her arrested was my asking my child if she'd rather I fought it or just let it be til my child is 18 and can do whatever desired. My child prefers to avoid living in conflict, so I'm letting it be. But, as thar is the case and my child will be doing college next, anyways. It negates my very purpose of coming here and being so far from family... a move to be near that this ex refused to make (or financially support) in the 5 years I had full custody due to her mental instability.

The next influence was the eye surgeries that had to happen over the last 7 months, during which time I honestly considered if I'd be homeless for not being able to pay rent or travel and had to get picked up at the hospital by those that are barely in my life or not present in my life, now. But, concurrent in this about family is that I haven't been home to see my mom and sister in over 3 years. I could never afford it with costs here and financial challenges. My mom is getting older, and I want to have her in my life, while I can. Even if I got into a relationship or developed friendships to solve the hospital issue, it would not solve the family issue, which is one reason I stopped looking for a relationship, for now.

Another reason is the realization I've had over the last weeks that my desire for a relationship is in many ways an addiction... and not a very healthy one for me at that. A book from my listening (audio book) says..

"Although there is no evidence that I am aware of that pain speeds up bodily repair, there is emerging evidence that taking opioids during surgery slows it down." Dopamine Nation

I think this extends beyond physical wounds. If we block out emotional, psychological, or even financial or career wounds by distraction or sedating things like too much alcohol, I think we end up stuck in broken cycles and not changing or doing things to move forward from it. My chasing a relationship, I realize, is in part an addiction to replace pain and past with the emotional high I felt in the past, even if it was not a high based on a functional relationship.

The author explains that in our brains we produce Dopamine to feel joys, but our brain seeks balance and decreases. We end up seeking something to replace that Dopamine, rather than making wise choices based on fact. That is a part of how we end UP in bad relationships in fact. We bypass red flags from rose color glasses chasing hearts and dreams. Then, the high wears off, and if there's little under the pleasure pressures, reality comes crashing down. Its like coming off a caffeine high without having eaten anything. Eventually, you are left with whatever substance there is to it...or the lack, thereof.

You also have to be able to recognize a path doesn't lead to success. In my 3 and a half years of living in Florida, I've done a lot of things to make you feel temporarily good, as that's one of the defining characteristics of this entertainment state... feel good for a moment and then look for the next hedonistic high, without establishing any quiet and steady routines. The dating apps are primarily intended to find "someone to do things with" by people that will put right into their profiles that they are not seeking remarriage and see the idea of dating only one person an offensive limit.

As I reflect back on my decade in Tulsa, prior to here, I had many moments of peaceful joy by myself or with family, prior to my time with my ex, which I forgot in my desire to get away from the one that hurt me. There were and are fun things to experience there, but you could also just be content with a simple life without that being seem as boring. You could live a life of less expense without being made to feel poor for it.

So, I'm planning to return there. Tulsa is my intended direction, as that's what I know, but Dallas or OKC are maybes, too. I am reconnecting with those from there, but I won't go back to my ex or even try. We did have several years that I thought was great, but she gave up, refused counseling to try to save it, didn't initiate any conversations, didn't check up on me, and she intentionally ended conversations. There is no way I can logically consider that for a future partner. It has to be two people working, or it's nothing.

So... anyways. That's my update book ha. I'll update more as the path progresses and gets more clear.